Are There Any Women Chimney Sweeps?
Yes, there are women who work as chimney sweeps, but not very many. One question female chimney sweeps are always asked is about the job being such dirty work and whether it bothers them. But that is one hurdle to overcome as a chimney sweep. But are there other, more valid, reasons a chimney sweep should be a man? Meet three chimney sweeps who can say without doubt that the answer to that question is an emphatic no.
Meet Sally McKnight
Sally McKnight of Alameda, California, is the owner and operator of a chimney sweep company, has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, and is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.
Sally started out working part-time for The Irish Sweep. After working there for a while, she began to accompany her employer in the field, to learn all she could about chimney sweeping. She fell in love with the industry and all it had to offer. Within a few short years, she became the owner of her own chimney sweep company. At the height of her success, she managed three sweep crews and two masonry crews – 14 employees.
But what Sally really loved was cleaning chimneys and being with the customers, so she returned to what she loved the most about the business. She is proud that women have found their way in male-dominated work places across America, as she has.
Meet Michaele Dempsey
A highly credentialed chimney sweep, Michaele Dempsey is one of five women in the state of California who have earned a certification with the Chimney Safety Institute of America. She and her husband are owners of a chimney sweep company, and between them they have more professional credentials than anyone in the surrounding counties. Michaele is current president of California’s Golden State Chimney Sweep Guild.
Meet Dawn Peters
Dawn Peters says there’s no need to be as strong as a man to be a chimney sweep, but being fit is important. Dawn is a chimney sweep in Britain, and she is one of only three in her country.
Dawn didn’t plan to be a chimney sweep, but she got fired from the call center where she worked and needed a job. She ruled out computer work because of a medical problem. Then her partner challenged her one day after a rather rude chimney sweep finished cleaning their chimneys. He said that she could have done a better job. She decided to find out, went to chimney school, and has been a chimney sweep ever since.
What does Dawn think of the profession? She says, “It’s a fantastic business if you don’t mind getting a bit dirty.”
Dawn has an appreciation for the history of her craft, which includes the superstition that chimney sweeps are lucky at weddings. She makes it a practice to show up at weddings dressed in tails and a top hat, carrying a traditional chimney sweep brush and rod. She poses with the couple and has a limerick ready to tell, if the couple wishes.
There are different fuels used in fireplaces, and Dawn cleans chimneys for them all – oil, coal, wood, and gas. In spite of her consistent work, she has been surprised that in this day and age some stove suppliers have chosen not to promote her simply because she is a woman.
Contact us if you need your chimney cleaned or inspected. Whether we send a man or a woman, you can be sure the sweep who works on your home will be a certified, licensed professional who will do an excellent job. And they won’t mind getting a little dirty.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110